We’re seven races into the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series postseason. That means there’s only two races remaining before we head to the Homestead-Miami Speedway to settle this year’s championship.
Right now, Martin Truex Jr. knows he will have a shot at a second title in the last three years via his win in Sunday’s First Data 500 at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway. It was a dominating performance in his No. 19 Toyota. He led 464 of 500 laps run in the opening race of the Round of 8.
So, who else is looking good and who’s not?
In terms of looking good, I think Denny Hamlin has to be feeling pretty good about himself still. He finished fourth in his No. 11 Toyota earning his fourth top five finish in his last five races of the season. He’s +24 in the standings heading to a track (Texas) that he won at in the spring.
The other two drivers that are currently on the good side of the playoff standings right now I don’t think are feeling too hot. Kyle Busch may be +17 but Sunday was the first time since the spring race in 2015 that Busch didn’t grab a top five in Martinsville. He’s also only had two top five finishes during the playoffs.
Joey Logano did finish seventh in his No. 22 Ford but he has scored just one top five in the last 16 races run. He’s +14 in the standings.
But, it’s not just how bad they’ve been running lately to why I’m down on their championship aspirations, it’s how the guys behind them are running too and what’s coming up for them.
Kevin Harvick may not have won a race in the playoffs this year but he has won the last two Texas playoff races and has three top two finishes in the Lonestar State in his last four tries. Then, it’s to Phoenix where you can never bet against Harvick at. He trails Logano by 14 points.
Then, it’s Ryan Blaney who’s 15 points out. Blaney, has two top five finishes in his last three starts on the season and was runner-up to Harvick in last year’s playoff race at Texas. He had the car to beat on the 1.5-mile track in the spring race before an engine let go. Then, he was third at Phoenix back in March too.
To me, Harvick and Blaney could win each of the next two races and take two more spots into the final round to join Truex. That would leave one spot available to Hamlin, Busch, Logano, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott.
Larson, escaped Martinsville with his first top 15 finish since 2015 but is -24. Texas, isn’t necessarily a strong track for him as he likely would be faced with a must win at Phoenix.
Elliott, had an axel break in Martinsville and finished 36th. He’s -44 heading to a Texas track he’s just a solid top 10 driver at. That would force a must win at Phoenix for him too.
That’s why I feel like Hamlin is sitting good while Harvick and Blaney are driving the best out of the rest from there.